Friday May 25, 2018

Parthenium update Dec 2013

Update on Parthenium - December 2013


During November I contacted the Agricultural Research Council; Plant Protection Research Institute (ARC) and requested that the next time they are in this area if they could please drop of Zygogramma bicolorarta and Listronotus setoispennis (sorry guys no common name for these little beetle’s) so that we could get biocontrol initiated for Parthenium in Marloth. (KNP have not yet implemented any biocontrol on Parthenium).

It was later confirmed and met with Dr’s Andrew McConnachie and Lorraine Strathie on the 05/12/13. Andrew was one of the lecturers on the course that we did at Rhodes University. Both those people are the initiators of the biocontrol programme against Parthenium and the subsequent testing and approval for release of the above two agents with a third agent, Epilblema strenuana  which is a moth which was tested but unfortunately may not be suitable as it has the potential to interfere with a certain crop in eastern Africa. It is their intention to utilise as many of the nine different biocontrol agents that Australia are currently using, although each needs to be thoroughly tested before they can be released in South Africa.



I selected the Gravel pit at Lionspruit for the release of the biocontrol agents, for two reasons.

  1. Hopefully the area will not be disturbed by humans.
  2. The Parthenium in this area does not die back during the winter months to any large extent.

Approximatly 100 Z. bicolorarta and 100 L. setoispennis were released on 04/12/14. They have requested that no spraying, cutting or pulling take place in this area. Also we should not expect to see any decrease in plant density in this area over the next two seasons. If we do we should consider ourselves lucky. Seed core samples were not taken but the current seed bank is estimated at 40 000 seeds per m2. We will monitor this area on a routine basis and provide them with necessary feedback. Hopefully the biocontrol will assist in containing it and stop it from spreading further but this will need to be monitored for a number of years.




  1. Basically any attempt at pulling or cutting Parthenium should only be done before it has started to flower. Once it has flowers the probability is that more damage than good is done in trying to remove it.
  2. The herbicides that people use do not do any damage to the seeds.
  3. If cutting is carried out the plant needs to buried not burned. However this is not actively recommend as again more harm than good may be done.
  4. ARC stated it would be beneficial if the Municipality grader was washed down in the same spot at the end of each day as this is one of main ways in which Parthenium can be distributed through Marloth Park and Lionspruit.
  5. ARC again stressed that Parthenium is a “Disturbance Specialist” and that we should take cognisance of that. Each time the surface soil is disturbed there is the possibility of Parthenium establishing itself.
  6. Australia have had limited success of late, they have been able to reduce the spread of Parthenium by about 20% in a “couple of areas”. Bear in mind they currently have nine biocontrol agents, containment measures, strict vehicle access controls, restricted human access etc etc.




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